Stop the presses. My first finished project of 2014 has me grinning from ear to ear! It’s my Purple Passion Emery.
(No, we haven’t painted our kitchen yet, I did not pick that pale pooh green. And welcome to our broom closet door. And my collection of state plates, which will look much cuter on aqua walls, when we get to painting.)
Well okay, that’s not quite grinning ear to ear, that’s a normal smile. How about this one below then? It’s more like how this dress makes me feel… I guess the expression is something like “psychotically excited”?
Yeah. But it’s true! This dress pattern is Emery, by Christine Haynes, and I’m now obsessed with it.
While I, like many, have been looking at my closet this year, one of the things I hit on when I looked at the closet of my daydreams was that I don’t wear dresses a lot. It’s for a variety of reasons, but here’s two of the biggest ones: (1) I don’t have many dresses that I feel fit me really well (most a little too big overall, and now a little bigger still as I lost a bit of weight last year at some point), so I often feel frumpy in them. (2) I don’t have many cardigans that I feel pair well with the dresses I do have, and the ones I have accentuate the frumpy factor. So we have a double whammy of frumptasticness, in an area where women often feel really awesome and fabulous–wearing a dress, that is!
So one of my goals this year is to come up with at least a couple of rock solid dress patterns that make me feel fabulous, and that I can turn to and alter ad nauseum (like my McCall blouse from 1942 that I made once, twice, three times last year, as well as a couple of the vintage skirt patterns I sewed multiple times, too). At first I was a little hesitant about the Emery pattern. I saw a few versions I really liked, but another few that didn’t “speak” to me, so you know how that goes. But when assessing my wardrobe, it really seemed like it had the potential to be a great basic staple, so I took the plunge.
And I hemmed and hawed on size to cut. It’s taken me awhile to figure out the size I truly am, because I thought I was a larger size for a long time, possibly even all of last year! Well no wonder so much shit is big on me. Sheesh. Anyway, I cut a size 2, choosing the size based on my overbust/underbust, not by my full bust, and expecting to have to do an FBA for the first time. (Not because my boobs suddenly grew–because in fact in losing a little weight they did the opposite–but because I’ve only sewn about 4 dresses in the last 2 years and they were all from vintage patterns that were clearly a little too big. I know, I’m working on dress fit, as I said.)
One thing to note: I’m a pattern piece measurer of the first order. Measurements are your friend. For the size 2, the envelope says the finished bust is 34″ and the finished waist is 28 1/2″. When I measured the bodice pieces at the bust it matched the pattern, but at the waist it was a smidge over 26″. That was actually perfect for me, but it’s worth noting if you’re expecting it to have more built-in ease (which I didn’t want).
I was prepared to muslin it to death if need be. So at first, I just cut the pieces straight out of the envelope with no alterations. And when I tried it on, I was astounded that this is what I got. A muslin that looks like it was made for me This does NOT happen to me. But somehow with Emery, it did.
So I plowed ahead with my fabric, a vintage cotton in my stash. I had exactly 2.5 yards, and I was able to juuuust get all the pieces to fit by cutting the bodice lining out of another fabric and cutting the pocket pieces cross-grain.
Isn’t this fabric pretty? At first I thought the flowers were hibiscus, then I wasn’t sure, but they had a bit of a tropical vibe which reminded me of passion fruit for some reason, and I’ve been growing a bit fond of the color purple in the last year…so there you have it. My Purple Passion Emery.
Last year I decided I needed more black in my wardrobe because I have a lot of black shoes, but that dark teal and purple are almost non-existent in my closet, so I’m kind of pushing my comfort zone here. But, an excuse to look for matching accessories, right??
The bodice is lined with turquoise rayon bemberg. Not exactly the right choice to go so contrasty, as I think when I move you can see down the back of my dress and see the crazy lining, but at least it’s cool, right? This was my first time lining a bodice, outside of my Sew for Victory jacket.
I was complaining about the rayon all the way (even using spray stabilizer it’s still a royal pain), but it does feel luscious when it’s all put together. And it makes me feel kind of fancy having a bodice that’s lined!
I really don’t like invisible zippers, so I opted to swap it out for a lapped zipper at the center back. While I was mulling over how this would work with the bodice lining, I sought advice from Lauren of Rosie Wednesday, since I knew she’d made the same modification on her Emerys (1, 2, and her Fall for Cotton version). Thanks Lauren, for making sure my head was on straight! ♥
Here’s what the lapped zipper and lining looks like from the inside. I left the zipper open so you could actually see the lap. And yes, you can totally see my understitching at the top because I didn’t have turquoise thread. Ha! The lining is a little wobbly on the right side along the zipper because I had some extra ease on that side for some reason, but otherwise I think it looks quite good for hand stitching. (I actually kind of like that part of the process.)
And here’s what it looks like on the outside. I was going to hand pick the zipper but in the end decided the print was busy enough that I could just machine stitch it.
And nope, there’s totally no pattern matching at all here. I had exactly enough yardage to eek this out with none to spare for things like that! As Lladybird Lauren would say, sorrynotsorry.
I did make one clerical error, which was to not leave enough room at the top of the zipper stop on the underlap side. It didn’t occur to me until too late that once the lining was sewn and understitched, the teeth went right up to the tippy top, making a little tiny doofy spot above the zipper stop. You can’t really tell in the photos below (although the angle makes my stitches look like they veer off to the left but they don’t…and I know this because they did originally and I had to re-do it, lol). This is an area I’ll work on perfecting in future versions, as I love the center lapped zipper!
Friends, I am seriously over the moon about this dress and this pattern! Yes, a simple, well-fitting dress is old hat to some of you, but for me it’s a mighty thrilling thing, especially when there’s so few pieces in my current wardrobe that fit really well like this. And it’s exactly the kind of dress I can actually see myself wearing a ton, which is just what I need.
Remember when I said I wanted more dresses and skirts with pockets? Well there’s inseam pockets, even! A trial run has shown my iPhone wants to tip slightly out (by 1/2″ or less), so I may deepen them a bit next time.
When I was prancing around, I felt like the back was kind of gapping but none of the photos showed that, so I think it was perhaps more a case of me trying crane my neck and hold my hair up looking at the back of my neck in photos. I think the only other change I may make to future versions (and oh there will be many) is to lengthen the bodice about 1/2″. I’m short-waisted so this came as a surprise, but perhaps it’s the balancing act of not needing to do an FBA, but my chest taking up a bit of that slack from the torso. Not sure, but I could stand a hair more length, I think. I’ll decide for sure the more I wear this.
It feels amazing wearing a dress that actually fits me well and feels cute and kicky, all while having a fantastic vintage vibe. Seriously, Christine really hit it out of the park with Emery!
Thank you, Emery, for giving me my new favorite dress!
Don’t be surprised when you see future versions of this pattern crop up in my wardrobe! Square neck, sleeveless, shirtwaist style, maybe kimono sleeves… and hell, I’ll take several more just exactly like this one, too! I already have the fabric for version number 2, which probably won’t deviate from this one style-wise, but it’ll be in a cute vintage-inspired Valentine’s Day print.
Or maybe I’ll change something up a bit with my Valentine version after all… what do you think?